Confession: I'm not much of a sentimentalist when it comes to the holidays. Sure, I love cheesy Christmas mugs and socks with glittery reindeer on them just as much as I enjoy trimming the tree and gazing at twinkle lights, but I don't tear up at the end of It's a Wonderful Life or other such films. My enjoyment of the holiday tends to be a little more hedonistic than pious (pagan hippy that I am!), as do my tastes in holiday films.
Every holiday season, I look forward to watching these festive films that are less about Christmas and more about plots that just happen to take place this time of year. They are delicious stories and perfect for a cozy night in!
1. Christmas in Connecticut. There is no resisting Barbara Stanwyck, especially in this romantic-comedy about a woman who poses as a Martha-Stewart-like homemaker to write a column on all things domestic and culinary. Plot twist: her publisher decides she should host a war hero at her fictional family farm. Armed with a fake husband, a borrowed baby, and her trusty cook and friend, Stanwyck attempts to save the day, even as she begins to fall in love with the war hero. Shenanigans ensue!
2. The Shop Around the Corner. This movie has the classic charm and wit of all Ernst Lubitsch films. James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan play fellow shop employees who are constantly at odds. Unbeknownst to each other, they are actually pen pals--and in love with one another via their letters. It's a treat to see how their true identities are unveiled just in time for Christmas Eve festitivites. It's perfect for an afternoon of gift wrapping.
3. Desk Set. This is one of those Katherine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy rom-coms about the office gossip mill, as Hepburn fears Tracy's latest invention will make her job obsolete. Add a complicated love triangle and you have the perfect recipe for a movie to craft by. One of the all-time best parts of this movie is the office Christmas party in which Hepburn gets more than a little tipsy (what can I say, the woman does fun-drunk so well!).
4. Holiday. This is another Hepburn movie, only this time with Cary Grant as her leading man. It features Grant as a hard working young man torn between his new rich fiancée’s conservative plans for his future and his own free-thinking dreams. Enter Hepburn, his fiancée’s sister and the black sheep of the family, equally resistant to the pomp of her surroundings and looking only for life, love, and adventure. Although a rom-com, this movie has surprisingly poignant moments that emphasize the strength it takes to be true to yourself--and it has another stellar scene of a happily drunk Hepburn!
5. The Thin Man. This movie, based off the book by Dashiell Hammett, kicks off one of the greatest film series of all time in my opinion, featuring the martini-swilling Nick and Nora Charles. It stars William Powell as the retired detective, Nick Charles, married to a rich Myrna Loy, Nora. While Nick keeps insisting that he's given up the practice, he finds himself solving yet another mystery between drinking martinis, throwing Christmas parties for the unsavory element he knew as a detective, and smooching with his wife. Warning: Side effects of watching this film include martini cravings.
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